Written by Sarah

First, let’s get something straight. I don’t dislike Natalie Portman. I like her quite a lot, actually. She’s sharp, talented, and I generally like her movies. I don’t see all of them because she has a habit of making some pretty depressing stuff, but I enjoy her on screen. I just don’t have any illusions about how Natalie is. It always surprises me when people say things like, “Why is Natalie Portman all of a sudden bitchy?” What is this “all of a sudden”? Natalie has always been bitchy. She’s snarky and tends to be snappish and standoffish when confronted on the street. It isn’t that she’s mean, she just doesn’t feel she owes the rabble any of her personal time.

And for so long she’s been the stuck-up intellectual artiste so up her own ass. It’s an attitude backed by talent and intellect (which doesn’t mean Natalie is exempt from saying dumb sh*t—she has said some phenomenally stupid stuff), but it’s an attitude nonetheless. Recently, though, a different side of Natalie has emerged. She wants to be a comedienne.

It started with those silly “Speak Out” videos with Rashida Jones on Funnyordie.com, and a game early appearance on Zach Galifianakis’s “Between Two Ferns”. It’s not a complete surprise—Natalie did a credible job hosting SNL in 2006 and her digital short “Natalie raps” remains one of the funniest Lonely Island sketches. But the last year has seen a concerted effort on Natalie’s part to move into comedy.

While Natalie could well be in awards contention for this year’s psycho-sexual drama Black Swan, she opens a romantic comedy in January with Ashton Kutcher called No Strings Attached. January is a graveyard where studio projects are sent to die so there’s little chance it’s really worth our time, but still, it’s a calculated move to present her as a viable romantic comedy lead.

The stronger move comes in April with Your Highness (the red band trailer is below - NSFW), from the team behind Pineapple Express, which costars James Franco and Danny McBride. Does it look dumb? Yes, incredibly. But it also looks hilarious. If she can hold her own against McBride, who’s been stealing scenes in some of the funniest movies of the last few years, Natalie’s budding career as a comedienne will be set.

But it’s not enough for Natalie to just *be* funny, she must also *make* funny. Thus she has co-written a comedy script along with a Harvard friend (Laura Moses). It’s allegedly quite raunchy and is about two twenty-something women who set up a swinger’s party to meet men. It’s being shopped to studios but looks like it’s headed for the independents as several studios have already passed. Natalie wants to star as one of the two leads and Anne Hathaway is rumored to be interested in the other. I get that buying a sex comedy script written by Natalie Portman probably seems like a risk, especially in this economy, but come on. Natalie + Anne + sex humor and inevitable nudity = male butts in seats.

Longevity derives from diversity. To remain viable, especially in a bad economy when fewer movies are getting funding and there’s no shortage of cheaper talent, even a much-admired actress like Natalie Portman has to find ways to stay fresh. Letting go of some of that rigid control and branching out into comedy is a great way to diversify.

(Note from Lainey: her ASS in this trailer is ridiculous. If you need to inspect closer, click here. She’s now been fully reinstated on Jacek’s Freebie Five. Also, why don’t you people watch Eastbound & Down?)